Over half of UK workers would consider quitting if hybrid working was removed

Zach Marzouk

9 Dec, 2021

Over half of UK workers (51%) who currently have the choice to mix remote and office working would consider quitting their job if this hybrid option was removed.

The pandemic has changed hybrid working from “nice to have” to a “must-have”, according to new research from Microsoft and YouGov.

The findings are based on online surveys of 2,046 employees and 504 HR decision-makers (HRDMs) in the UK that was carried out between 7 and 15 October 2021. 59% of HRDMs surveyed agree hybrid working has had a positive effect on the mental wellbeing of their workforce too.

Microsoft pointed to data from the Office for National Statistics which revealed resignations and job-to-job moves in the UK are at their highest level in two decades, which is what some experts are calling “the great resignation”.

Onboarding at a new business during the pandemic has been challenging, with 36% of UK workers who started a new job since the start of the pandemic experiencing their entire onboarding process without ever setting foot in the workplace.

These workers have struggled with forming working relationships (42%), not having a manager or team in the room to ask for information or guidance (33%), learning to use new software and applications (24%), earning the confidence of colleagues (23%), and soaking up company culture (21%).

The challenges of remote onboarding has also been recognised by HRDMs, with 36% feeling that remote onboarding makes it hard to provide effective training for starters and 35% voiced concerns about ensuring employees have easy access to the information they need. 28% were also worried about upholding their organisation’s culture and reputation.

Despite this, HRDMS and employees believe the long-term benefits of hybrid working outweigh these potential problems. The report found that the most pressing concerns identified by HRDMs in not having a hybrid working model were an inability to retain new talent (38%), a negative impact on productivity (25%), a negative impact on wellbeing (24%), employee burnout (23%), and keeping pace with competitors (23%).

37% of HRDMS who have onboarded new staff remotely said that although the process was challenging, it is resolvable with the right technology solutions.

“The pandemic has proven that organisations can trust their people to be productive wherever they are,” said Nick Hedderman, director of Modern Work Business Group at Microsoft UK.

“They now have an opportunity to reshape work around individual roles, preferences and even personal lives. This is achievable through tech-enabled hybrid working models, which supports the creation of a rich digital culture to benefit everyone, helping to attract and retain top talent.”

This comes after UK leaders are urging people to work from home following the rise of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Nicola Sturgeon is asking for people in Scotland to work from home until the middle of January, while Boris Johnson asked people to work from home where possible.